Four framed paintings are mounted on the uppermost section of a rolling rack in the museum's art storage room.


The South Carolina State Museum is home to more than 4,500 pieces of South Carolina art from traditional portraiture and decorative arts to...
Full length skeleton of a prehistoric creature with a long, elongated body, two short legs and a thin, alligator like head.

Natural History Collection

Reflecting the natural wonder of the state, the natural history collection at the South Carolina State Museum contains an estimated 1 million fossils...
Two hands in blue latex glove hold a whale tooth carved with a bird and images of ships and the sea

Cultural History Collection

The cultural history collection at the South Carolina State Museum includes more than 65,000 object and images.
Charles Duke Apollo 16 Helmet

Science & Technology

The science and technology collection at the South Carolina State Museum includes 3,500 objects relevant to scientific, technological, and industrial...
Four framed paintings are mounted on the uppermost section of a rolling rack in the museum's art storage room.


South Carolina State Museum Collections

The South Carolina State Museum houses a diverse collection of more than 1 million pieces of art, artifacts, fossils, specimen and more. The museum’s collection is organized into four subject areas which reflect the rich cultural, technological and natural history of South Carolina dating from the pre-historic era to the present. Learn more about the areas of collection below.

(Robyn Adams. Registrar South Carolina State Museum) “Objects hold a special place in our lives.”

(Paul Matheny. Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs, South Carolina State Museum) “They preserve our past and have the power to inspire and bring stories to light.”

(Robyn) “From billions year old meteorites,”

(Paul) “stunning pieces created by South Carolina artists and craftspeople,”

(Robyn) “and one-of-a-kind pieces of cultural history.”

(Paul) “Each object of the museum contains the tangible history of South Carolina- offering a connection to our past, present and future.”

(Robyn) “And what you see only scratches the surface.”

(Paul) “My name is Paul, and I'm the Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs here at the South Carolina State Museum.

(Robyn) “My name is Robyn and I'm the State Museum's registrar. My job is to coordinate the care of the collection. With limited space in the museum's galleries with over 1.1 million objects, specimens, artifacts and fossils within our care, most of the State Museum's collection remains in storage.”

(Paul) “Fine art, folk art, contemporary art- all created by South Carolina artists and craftspeople, and dating back as far as the 1500s.”

(Robyn) “Culturally significant pieces throughout South Carolina's history. And drawers upon drawers of ancient shark teeth, fossils and modern day specimens.”

(Paul) “These invaluable objects are stored, preserved, cataloged and cared for. Ensuring artifacts like this face vessel, created by an enslaved craftsperson from the Edgefield area, can bring the compelling, diverse stories of South Carolina to life for many years down the road.”

(Robyn) “Recently, the State Museum has been awarded a series of grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and received funding from the South Carolina State Legislature to assist in digitizing our collection.”

(Paul) “This not only improves our quality of care for the collection, but also increases access for researchers, educators and the public.”

(Robyn) “Each object is carefully handled, photographed, measured, and all details noted about its condition, background, maker, and whether it's on loan, a purchase, or a donation. Then it is carefully placed in storage or in the museum galleries for you to see.”

(Paul) “Thanks to these efforts, portions of our collection are now accessible online for you to explore!”

Explore the Collection

From traditional portraiture and decorative arts to the most up-to-the minute contemporary work by South Carolina artists, the State Museum offers guests a wide variety of art to enjoy.

The museum's extensive Natural History Collection contains a diverse collection of fossils and specimens, including numerous millions-year old shark teeth, ice age specimens and other modern insects and biological material.

Including more than 45,000 objects and images the history collection dates back to early Native American cultures through colonial settlement, the Civil War and into the 20th century.

The museum's science and technology collection includes a very diverse range of objects, including: tools, cars, farm equipment, vintage televisions and radios, airplanes and a world-class historic telescope collection.

A man and woman bend down towards a table to examine a large, old leather bound book

Collection Spotlight: William Turpin Bible (1815)

Take a closer look at this recently acquired object in the museum's collection: a Bible owned by William Turpin, a Charleston merchant and enslaver turned abolitionist.

Discover More About the Turpin Bible